Rob Heffernan crosses the line in Moscow. ©INPHO/Ian MacNicol
irish pride

President Higgins hails Ireland's new world champion Rob Heffernan

“He has achieved all that he deserves,” said the President.

ROB HEFFERNAN’S GOLD Medal-winning achievements in Moscow have garnered praise from President Michael D Higgins.

The Cork native finished more than a minute ahead of nearest challenger, Russia’s Mikhail Ryzhov, to capture Ireland’s first gold medal at a world championship since Sonia O’Sullivan in 1995.

Heffernan was embraced by wife, and fellow athlete, Maria Heffernan after crossing the finish line and fellow Irish race walker Brendan Boyce. The 50km Race Walk gold ends a 30 year wait for an Irish male to be crowned an athletics world champion. Eamonn Coghlan won Gold in the 5000m at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki.

President Higgins said, “I offer my congratulations to Rob Heffernan on his outstanding success in winning the World Championships 50km Race Walk in Moscow. All of us will share in this wonderful moment for Rob and his family, whom I met at Aras an Uachtaráin last year.

Rob came so close to success in the London Olympics and now, through hard work and dedication, he has achieved all that he deserves.”

The President added, “My best wishes to all of the Irish team in Moscow, they will be uplifted by Rob’s great win.”

President Higgins was following events in Moscow closely. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

“I would like to congratulate Rob Heffernan on his wonderful achievement,” added Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, “in winning gold at the World Athletics Championships today.

“I met Rob following his fourth place finish in last year’s Olympics and I am particularly pleased to see him win today. This gold medal shows his tremendous strength of character and determination to grow stronger from each near miss. That today’s win was the fastest time in the world this year further highlights the scale of his achievement and I offer him the warmest congratulations on behalf of the people of Ireland.”

Sports ministers Leo Varadkar and Michael added their congratulations to those of the Taoiseach, meanwhile.

“It’s a huge achievement for Rob,” said Varadkar. “After so many years competing at the very top level of international race walking, it is a just and most deserved reward for all his hard work and determination.”

Minister Ring added: “It was a great performance by Rob and considering he came so close to a medal in 2010, this is a superb accomplishment for all his endeavour.”

The congratulatory messages for Heffernan have flowed in ever since he claimed his medal. Sports stars such as Jamie Heaslip, Derval O’Rourke and Alan Quinlan have taken to Twitter to pass on their best wishes.

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How Twitter reacted to Rob Heffernan’s stunning World Championship Gold

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